Capabilities and Limitations of Current Technology

Angela M. Sasse & Louise Clark

1. Tools available

- ReLaTe (simple, easy to use interface)
~ not compatible across all platforms
- Individual tools (more flexibilty)
~ complicated, windows management problems
 

2. What you can transmit with the tools

- "live" audio, video, text and drawings
- pre-recorded audio and video (digitally or analogue)
~ not TV quality - images (can be scanned/loaded in)
~ only PostScript format - text files (including exercises)
~ pure text or converted to PostScript
 

3. What you can save/print out

- PostScript files of wb
- text files of nte

- analogue/digital recordings
~digital recording not stable yet
 

4. Group sizes

- up to 8 for ReLaTe, but interactive groups best 6 max
~ presently only 4 participant with ReLaTe on some platforms
- larger groups in lecture setup
- more explicit protocol required for larger groups
 

5. Do - In preparation

- schedule students to turn up before start time (setting up takes time)
- check connectivity for audio, video and imported texts/images
- send materials by fax/email in advance of session
- give materials to technical staff in advance of session
- get the students to prepare issues to discuss before the session
- turn up before start time yourself
- check volume levels - bring all volumes down to match the volume of the quietest participant
 

6. Do - audio & video

- use voice activated - they appear to feel freer to encourage and interrupt each other more
- check that you are actually in shot
- check that lighting is adequate
 

7. Do - wb

- use different colour for each participant on wb
- show students how to undelete on wb
- create a blank page rather than deleting, when out of space
- save contents of wb after tutorial if useful for students
 

8. Do - nte

- use different colour for each participant in nte
- lock imported text, so not accidentally deleted (undo not implemented)
- make use of document map to detect activity outside your "field of vision"
 

9. Do - During the tutorial

- have a break in 2-hour sessions
- agree what notes are required

- In case of technical problems:
    - Have contingency plans (Unicast or telephone - remember wb + nte are the last to go)
    - Chat to students on line when waiting for faults to be remedied with other participants

- In general
    - Engage quieter students in conversations and encourage them to use the wb
 

10. Don't

- use a book to work from during remote tutorials
- accept coursework electronically (printing takes a lot of time)
- talk too much. The point of video conferencing is for everyone to engage in dialogue
- put individuals on the spot too much (the intensity can be a reason for staying away)
- allow changes in tutorial group participants from one week to the next. (they need to get to know a small group)

11. Assessors should look for:

- Pedagogical impact of using the technology for language teaching
- Identify differences between face-to-face and remote teaching
- How effective the exercises are
- Any further ideas for development



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